Tuesday, 29 March 2016

FOUR star review The Truth, Menier Chocolate Factory

Robert Portal as Paul and Alex Hanson as Michel in The Truth, photo credit Marc Brenner

TWO couples and four lives which are intertwined. But what is the truth behind them? That is the premise of a play by Florian Zeller and which is now on at the Menier Chocolate Factory.
Michel is sleeping with Alice, the wife of his best friend Paul with whom he enjoys games of tennis. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Michel, Paul is having an affair with Laurence, Michel's wife.
Both couples are lying to each other and all of them are lying to themselves - and trying to convince themselves that despite that it's OK because they are not hurting anyone and by lying they are protecting their other halves. But no one is being truthful.
Despite the lies and astonishing level of hypocrisy, it's very funny with more than a nod to farce - will the spouses find out about these trysts, will their lies unravel? Things come perilously and deliciously close on more than one occasion.
Most of the action centres around Michel who finds his life begins to spiral out of control when Alice suggests they go away for the weekend. They both lie to their partners about where they are and to begin with it looks like they have got away with it.
However, when Paul phones up, Michel begins to sweat and worry about his indiscretion.
In the end Alice suggests they come clean, something that makes Michel sweat even more.
It's a hugely enjoyable piece, with a great set and a tight script, acted out by a stellar cast led by Alex Hanson as Michel.
There are also plenty of laugh out loud moments, most notably when Michel squirms as he thinks he's about to get rumbled, breathes a sigh of relief when he thinks he's got away with it and then crumples when he realises he hasn't.
Robert Portal is also excellent as Paul, who plays his own game with ruthless calm and poise. My only niggle was that the other characters were not as fully developed as Michel which was a shame.
However, ultimately it's about hypocrisy, deceit and betrayal with a real twist in the tale at the end and leaves you guessing what is The Truth, right up to the end.

The Truth is on at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Southwark Street until Saturday, May 7. Visit www.menierchocolatefactory.com for listings.

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